The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Scanners
As technology continues to advance, 3D scanning has become increasingly popular in various industries.
Whether you’re in manufacturing, engineering, architecture, or even entertainment... 3D scanning offers a more efficient way of creating accurate 3D models. These can be used to benefit projects in many ways, and in some situations, have even helped to save lives.
However, with numerous types of scanners available, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. What do you need to know about picking out the best possible 3D scanner for the work you're trying to do? What do you need to consider before buying a scanner?
Read on and we'll walk you through everything you need to know.
What is 3D Scanning?
3D scanning is the process of capturing the physical shape and dimensions of an object. Often, this work is done using a device that emits light or other forms of radiation.
The data collected from this process is used to create a 3D digital model of the object. This model can then be manipulated and analyzed on a computer.
3D scanning is commonly used in various industries to create accurate and detailed models of objects, prototypes, and even human body parts.
This technology has become more accessible and affordable in recent years, allowing more people to take advantage of its many benefits. Even small businesses these days are learning how to use 3D scanning and printing to their benefit.
Structured Light 3D Scanners
One of the most common types of 3D scanners that you'll run into on the market is the structured light variety.
Structured Light 3D scanners use a projector to project a series of light patterns onto an object. A camera then captures the reflected light patterns to create a 3D model of the object. The accuracy of this type of 3D scanner is typically high, making it ideal for precision applications such as creating medical models, automotive parts, and aerospace components.
Structured Light 3D scanners work by projecting a grid of light onto the object being scanned.
The camera then captures the way that the grid of light is distorted as it reflects off the object. This allows the scanner to create a highly detailed 3D model of the object, with a level of accuracy that can be as high as a few micrometers.
One of the main advantages of structured light 3D scanners is their speed.
They can typically scan an object in just a few seconds, making them ideal for applications where time is of the essence. They’re also highly portable and easy to use, making them a popular choice for fieldwork.
3D Laser Scanners
This one's all in the name: 3D laser scanner use lasers to capture the shape of an object.
The laser sends out a beam of light that reflects off the object and back to the scanner. The scanner then uses the information from the reflected laser to create a 3D model.
3D laser scanners are highly accurate and can be used in applications such as reverse engineering, quality control, and inspection.
3D laser scanners come in two different types: triangulation and time-of-flight. Triangulation scanners use a laser and a camera to measure the distance between the scanner and the object being scanned.
Time-of-flight scanners use a laser to emit pulses of light that bounce off the object and back to the scanner. The scanner measures the time it takes for the light to travel to and from the object, creating a 3D model.
3D laser scanners are highly accurate, with some models capable of achieving sub-millimeter accuracy. They’re ideal for scanning objects with complex geometries, such as mechanical parts, molds, and tooling.
They’re also commonly used in quality control and inspection applications, where accuracy is crucial.
Time-of-flight 3D scanners use a laser to emit pulses of light that bounce off the object and back to the scanner.
The scanner measures the time it takes for the light to travel to and from the object, creating a 3D model. Time-of-flight scanners are highly accurate and fast, making them ideal for applications such as virtual reality, animation, and gaming.
Time-of-flight 3D scanners work by emitting a pulse of light and then measuring the time it takes for the light to return to the scanner.
The scanner uses this information to create a 3D model of the object being scanned. Time-of-flight scanners are highly accurate and can scan objects in just a few seconds, making them ideal for applications where speed is important.
One of the main advantages of time-of-flight 3D scanners is their versatility. They can be used in a wide range of applications, from creating virtual reality environments to inspecting components in the automotive industry.
Like Structured Light scanners, they're versatile and easy to transport, which makes them ideal for work in the field.
Photogrammetry 3D Scanners
On a budget? One of the more common consumer options when it comes to 3D scanners is this variety.
Photogrammetry 3D scanners use photographs of an object taken from multiple angles to create a 3D model. The photographs are analyzed using specialized software that determines the position and orientation of each photograph.
The software then combines the photographs to create a 3D model of the object. Photogrammetry 3D scanners are ideal for creating 3D models of large objects or environments. This could include buildings, landscapes, and archaeological sites.
The software used in photogrammetry can determine the position and orientation of each photograph, allowing the software to create a 3D model of the object being scanned. Photogrammetry 3D scanners are highly accurate.
They can create models with a level of detail that can be as high as a few millimeters.
They’re commonly used in industries such as architecture, surveying, and archaeology, where creating accurate 3D models of large structures or landscapes is important.
As we mentioned, they’re also less expensive than other types of 3D scanners, making them a popular choice for small businesses or individuals.
CT 3D Scanners
CT scanners use X-rays to create a 3D model of an object. The object is placed on a turntable and rotated while X-rays are passed through it from different angles.
The X-rays are then captured by detectors on the other side of the object, creating a series of 2D images. These images are then combined using specialized software to create a 3D model of the object.
CT scanners are highly accurate and can create 3D models with a level of detail that can be as high as a few micrometers. They’re commonly used in medical applications, such as creating 3D models of internal organs or bones.
One of the main advantages of CT scanners is their ability to create 3D models of internal structures. They’re commonly used in the medical industry for diagnostic and treatment planning purposes.
They’re also used in other industries, such as engineering and aerospace, for inspecting components that cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Contact 3D Scanners
Last but not least, there's a 3D scanner type that is most commonly used in the automotive and manufacturing spaces.
Contact 3D scanners use a probe to physically touch an object and measure its shape. The probe is equipped with sensors that measure the distance between the probe and the object.
The data collected by the sensors is used to create a 3D model of the object.
Contact 3D scanners are highly accurate and can create 3D models with a level of detail that can be as high as a few micrometers. They’re commonly used in applications such as quality control, inspection, and reverse engineering.
One of the main advantages of contact 3D scanners is their ability to accurately measure the shape of an object. They’re commonly used in industries where precision is crucial. They’re also ideal for scanning objects with complex geometries or uneven surfaces.
Understanding the Types of Scanners
If you're looking to do detailed work, a 3D scanner could be the tool you need to make this work possible. This is true no matter what industry you're operating in.
However, with so many different types of scanners out there, it can be difficult to know which one is right for your work. The above guide can help you to understand all of the scanner options available to you - and which might be the best choice for your needs.
Have more questions about 3D scanners? Give us a call anytime for more help.